Austin Reaves speaks on LeBron James being criticized his whole career for making right basketball play late in games

Zach Stevens
2 Min Read

With 12.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons, LeBron James found Austin Reaves for a corner 3-pointer that boosted L.A.’s lead to five and ensured a seven-point win.

Afterward, Reaves referenced a common criticism James has faced for many years.

James’ shot was on against the Pistons, as he went 14-of-24 from the field. But on that possession, he wasn’t able to get a great shot.

He is gradually approaching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Surpassing him would be an immense honor for a player who has often prioritized passing the ball over scoring.

James isn’t the most natural scorer in the history of the game, and in crunch time, he oftentimes gives up the ball instead of looking to force the issue and take a shot or draw a foul and shoot free throws. It has opened him up to some occasional criticism from fans and observers who would rather see him play more like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, both of whom were shoot-first players.

But, the four-time MVP’s desire to drop dimes has served him well, as he recently surpassed Magic Johnson for sixth place on the all-time career assists list.

James’ average of 26.2 points per game this season also isn’t too shabby for a pass-first player.

He has always thrived when he has been surrounded by multiple 3-point snipers, but the Lakers have a lack of such players these days. One exception seems to be Reaves, who has greatly improved that aspect of his game in his second NBA season.

The undrafted wing is shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc so far this season, and he went 3-for-5 from distance in L.A.’s win over Detroit on Sunday. He has become a key role player who contributes in multiple ways to the team.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.